Brooklyn Boro

Orkis Named CUNYAC’s top student-athlete

BC Tennis Star Becomes First Bulldog Ever to Receive Honor

May 21, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Senior Yuliya Orkis became the first-ever Brooklyn College Bulldog to earn CUNYAC Student-Athlete of the Year honors last week. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn College Athletics
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Senior Yuliya Orkis capped a spectacular four-year run as the best tennis player in the City University of New York Athletic Conference by becoming the first-ever Brooklyn College Bulldog to be named the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year last week.

“It feels amazing,” said Orkis, who also was tabbed CUNYAC Tennis Player of the Year for the fourth consecutive time while posting a near-flawless 3.929 cumulative grade-point average as a theater/acting major at the Brooklyn school.

“I never thought that I would win this award because I know how many hard working student-athletes are out there,” the St. Edmund Prep alum. “It makes me look back on the last four years and feel very proud of all of the time I have put in. To be honored with such a title gives me even more drive and determination to be as hard working in my professional career as I head out into the world. I am thrilled and honored to be the first Brooklyn College student to receive such a prestigious award and proud to be able to represent my school and my department in such a way. To know that I will go down in Brooklyn College history for this is something I will be able to take with me everywhere I go. It makes me so proud to be a Brooklyn College student, athlete and theatre artist.”

Orkis, a three-year captain of the BC women’s tennis team, went 43-1 overall in singles play during her four-year reign atop the CUNYAC. She also posted a perfect 21-0 mark in league play, while going 34-3 in doubles competitions.

“Julie had an especially difficult task during her four years on the team to balance out school, work and tennis, but did a tremendous job doing so,” said BC head coach Ahmad Odetalla.

“In her capacity as captain of the tennis team since her sophomore year, Julie has served as a great mentor to those younger or more experienced than her, and has a calming effect on the rest of the team, including her coaches,” added Odetalla. “On the other hand, she knows when it is necessary for her to take charge and get on her teammates, knowing that it is in everyone’s best interests to set high expectations.”

Orkis’ lone loss as a Bulldog came at the 2013 USTA/ITA Division III Women’s Northeast Regional Championships, held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY.

The Brooklynite with Ukrainian roots won her first four matches at the tournament before falling in straight sets to the top overall seed, Ithaca College’s Cristina Nunez, in the semifinals.

“Sixty-four of the best tennis players in our region competed here this weekend and for Julie to finish in the top four, I couldn’t be more proud,” Odetalla noted following the tourney. “She carried herself with class the entire time and although I’m sure she was disappointed in how it ended, she never showed it. Julie is a very special player for us and I’m so glad that other schools got a chance to see that as well.”

Orkis, who has performed on stage in numerous school productions, credits her ability to remain focused on the task at hand as the key to her success both on and off the tennis court.

“Balancing the many things in one’s life is very difficult, but I think the one thing that has always helped me is noticing where I am in the current moment,” said Orkis. “My surrounding environment reminds me where I am, what I am doing there and where my focus must go. If I am in the rehearsal room, I must focus on rehearsing. When I am on the court, I am focusing on the match or practice at hand.

“I try not to let my other worries and responsibilities get into my head when I am not physically able to take care of those other responsibilities,” she added. “The present moment is the most important time for anyone.”

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After reeling off 16 consecutive wins and 48 straight sets, the Brooklyn Friends boys’ varsity volleyball team saw its bid for a perfect season end Wednesday afternoon at St. Francis College as the Pelicans of Packer Collegiate swept the Blue Pride to grab the Athletic Conference of Independent Schools championship.

BFS lost senior outside hitter Thomas Chamberlain to an ankle injury during the title contest, but Panthers coach Felix Alberto ceded that neighborhood rival “Packer played a great match to defeat us 3-0.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of our squad, who instead of giving up after losing Thomas, fought hard and tried their best to match up against the big and hungry Packer team,” added Alberto. “It was a great finals environment, with a huge crowd supporting both teams. Even though we lost this finals, the team showed their competitiveness throughout the match, putting up a great fight and representing the school with great pride.

“The sport of boys volleyball has a great future in our school, thanks to our seniors (Chamberlain, Lucas Miller, Griffin Edwards and Julien Bouguennec), who started the program four years ago.  We’ll be back next year hungrier than ever!”


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